Pilot Site: Plovdiv

Partner in Trace in charge of the Pilot site: Energy Agency of Plovdiv

The city of Plovdiv is the second largest city in Bulgaria, approximately 152 km (94 mi) south-east of the Bulgarian capital of Sofia. The population is over 376,000 and there are approximately 300,000 visitors per year, including 80,000 foreigners.

Plovdiv is situated in the southern part of the Plovdiv Plain on the two banks of the Maritsa River, connected by bridges. There are six hills, some of which are 250 m high. Even though it is situated in a valley, there are good connections with the surrounding mountains, where there are winter resorts and leisure-time activities are carried out. 

Plovdiv developed as an industrial centre, but today it is a business, cultural and historical site. Its economy is growing rapidly (average GDP growth of over 13% per year). It enjoys a constant flow of investments and intensive stakeholder interest. Industries keep their manufacturing plants on the outskirts. Some of the notable companies with a considerable flow of commuters are: Liebherr, the Socotab tobacco processing plant, a few bicycle plants, а Schneider electronics factory, a biodiesel plant, the Bulsaphil textile plant. Moreover, the largest electronics plant in the Balkans is located nearby. There is also a business park in the outskirts. Several hypermarkets have been built in the recent years. 

The main shopping area is the central street with its shops, cafés and restaurants. A number of cafés, craftsmen workshops and souvenir shops are situated in the Old Town and small streets in the centre. They attract thousands of tourists every year.

Plovdiv is also considered the cultural capital of the country, bearing numerous historical and archaeological spots that attract locals and tourists. It hosts economic and cultural events - the International Fair Plovdiv, the international theatre and music festivals. There are many remains preserved from antiquity, such as the Ancient Amphitheatre, the Roman Odeon, the Roman Stadium, the archaeological complex Eirene. These attract a great number of local and foreign tourists and visitors through the year. Additionally, the people flow through the city is increasing constantly. Both reasons cause concerns about facilities, information and accessibility.

The transport modes are in first place public transport and private vehicle inside the city, and intercity buses and trains outside the city. There are plans for enlarging the bicycle network, as the number of people using bikes is rapidly increasing, thus reaching a critical point. 

Plovdiv sustainable urban mobility goals

The city of Plovdiv is a compact urban area, well-connected to the smaller cities nearby. The major transport mode is private vehicle, but the city has a good public transport network and is strongly developing the bicycle network and improving the pedestrian zones and accessibility. The bicycle network was completely renovated in 2014/2015 and campaigns for bringing the bikers on are ongoing. The pedestrian zones are being renovated step-by-step according to the national accessibility requirements. Plovdiv will be the European Capital of Culture in 2019, so the city is investing efforts in improving its infrastructure and accessibility for both citizens and tourists. 

Activities in TRACE

The Energy Agency of Plovdiv will pilot three tools within the TRACE project: Traffic Snake game, Cycle-to-Shop and Tracking for planning.

The Traffic Snake game is an exciting endeavor for the kids, representing also their guide to sustainable mobility. Children learn quickly and with a smile - they are the best target group to address this undeniable issue - whereas young parents prefer their own car to the bikes and walking even when the kindergartens are at walkable distance. The game will support children and parents in choosing the best route to the kindergarten and at the same will help them to lower transport costs and save emissions.

The Cycle-to-Shop initiative enjoyed great interest in Plovdiv a few years ago. Shopping centers and malls are excited to welcome their customers on bikes. There is a common prejudice that people would go shopping by car, because it provides more space, but bikers shop more often thus making the local economy grow even more rapidly.

The Tracking for Planning tool is essential for the further development of the biking and walking network in the city. Currently, the walking and biking networks are well-developed and maintained, but they are not widely promoted and the actual increase of the share of bikers and pedestrians is not known. The TRACE tools will support the local authority in determining the number, segmentation and profile of the new wave of bikers and pedestrians choosing the sustainable travel to the private vehicle. 

Quick facts

  • Population: 376,000. Approximately 300,000 visitors per year, including 80 000 foreigners.
    • Road network length:  1020 km /total network in the City
    • Cycle paths length:  50 km
    • Public transport (PT) modes: diesel buses